History of Terrorism in Sri Lanka
What are they fighting for

by S. L. Gunasekara

Tamil terrorists in Sri Lanka have been waging a terrorist campaign in northern and eastern parts of the country, claim they are fighting for an exclusive Tamil Homeland to protect the Tamil People from the oppression and discrimination by the Sinhalese. They also try to defend their terrorist acts as legitimate freedom struggle. Their line of 'reasoning' proceeds on the palpably nonsensical assumption that if a relatively large number of people commit an unimaginable number of the most abhorrent of crimes over a long period of time in pursuance of a treasonous objective, their cause must necessarily be just, and that they must, therefore, be rewarded for their endeavors by being granted at least a very substantial part of their demands. - i.e. that if a small gang of people commit a relatively small number of crimes, they are criminals who must be apprehended and punished, but that if a relatively large gang of people commit an enormous number of crimes, they are not criminals in need of punishment but 'militants' or 'freedom fighters' in need of reward. It would also follow from this line of 'reasoning' that the cause of Franco, of Hitler, of Ian Smith of the Red Guards and of Pol Pot must all have been just.

There is one significant fact about the demands of not only the LTTE but also of all the other secessionists such as the so called 'moderate' Tamil parties which claim to have come into the ‘democratic process’. That fact is that they are restricted to a demand for 'autonomy' and 'self-rule' for the Tamils in the Northern and Eastern Provinces by means of the creation of an independent sovereign state, or an autonomous federated state within a Federal Union with loose links with the Central Government as 'a viable alternative' to a separate state. It would follow from the nature and content of their demands and the context in which they are made, that according to their perception, the grant of autonomy to the Tamils in the Northern and Eastern Provinces alone would 'liberate' the Tamils from the 'oppressive domination' of the Sinhalese, and enable them to live 'with dignity' as 'equals' with the Sinhalese, and be, therefore, a panacea for all the grievances which they allege are peculiar to the Tamils of Sri Lanka. However, all the Tamils of Sri Lanka do not live in the Northern and Eastern Provinces - far from it. According to the last census of 1981, 27.37% of all Sri Lanka Tamils, 90.85% of all Indian Tamils, and 53.2% of all Tamils live in the seven Provinces outside the Northern and Eastern Provinces in each of which the Sinhalese constitute the overwhelming majority.

If, as is alleged, all Tamils in Sri Lanka are oppressed by the Sinhalese and relegated to the status of second class citizens, how would the creation of either a sovereign independent State of Tamil Eelam or of an autonomous Tamil State under a federal constitution in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, whether on the lines proposed in the 'Package' or otherwise, provide a remedy for the alleged grievances of over half the Tamil Population of Sri Lanka who reside in the seven Provinces outside the Northern and Eastern Provinces?

No one, not even the most extreme of the Tamil Secessionists expects or conceives of there being a mass exodus of all Tamils living in the Western, Southern, Uva, Sabaragamuwa, Central, North Central, and North Western Provinces to the Northern and Eastern Provinces with the establishment of either a sovereign and independent State of Tamil Eelam or an autonomous Tamil State under a federal constitution in those two Provinces. The likelihood of all or even a significant number of the Tamils living in these seven Provinces packing bag and baggage, giving up their businesses, professional practices and their employment and uprooting themselves from their hearths and homes to trek northwards or eastwards to start their lives afresh under the 'benign' rule of Prabhakaran or any of his ilk is manifestly non-existent.

Thus, the causes the LTTE are fighting for, even if granted or achieved, will not redress any of the alleged grievances alleged to be suffered and continued to be suffered by the Tamils living outside the North and East who account for more than half the Tamil Population of the Country. Yet no demands are made by the Secessionists for or on behalf of these Tamils. According to the propaganda of the secessionists however, all Tamils in Sri Lanka, and not only those living northwards or eastwards of the provincial boundaries of the Northern and Eastern Provinces are oppressed and in need of 'liberation'. Since the entire content of their demand and the object sought to be achieved by their struggle has nothing to offer to more than half the Tamils of Sri Lanka, it must follow that the campaign of the Secessionists and the on-going civil war have nothing to do with alleviating any alleged grievances of the Tamils which are alleged to be peculiar to them.

Another glaring circumstance which confirms further, the fact that the civil war in which we are now embroiled is not one that is being waged to secure 'justice' for the allegedly 'oppressed' Tamils is to be found in the brutalities and genocidal attacks inflicted on the Muslims of the Northern and Eastern Provinces as well as of the adjacent North Central Province by Tamil Secessionists. Even assuming the unassumable, namely, that it was necessary for alleged Tamil 'Freedom Fighters' to butcher Sinhalese babies in arms and other defenceless Sinhalese civilians with 'assembly line efficiency' in well planned 'military' operations in order to 'liberate' the Tamils from 'Sinhalese oppression', it is beyond comprehension and even imagination how the infliction of similar atrocities on Muslim civilians could have been necessary to achieve that end.

In the immediate wake of the Indo Lanka Accord the LTTE, with no provocation, commenced massacring Sinhalese and Muslim civilians from Trincomalee down to Batticaloa in the first week of October 1987: the ENDLF and the EPRLF through its so called 'Tamil National Army' took over from where the LTTE left off and murdered and abducted Muslims, looted their property and extorted money from them in the Eastern Province while they constituted the Provincial Administration of the Northern and Eastern Provinces. After the dissolution of that Provincial Council the LTTE took over with alacrity this grisly task from the ENDLF and the EPRLF and recommenced the secessionists' genocidal campaign against the Muslims of both sexes and all ages. Thus 62 Muslims were hacked to death at Nintavur in the Ampara District on the 21st June 1990, 140 Muslims were murdered and about 66 injured while at prayer in the Meera Jumma and Hussainiya Mosques at Kathankudy in the Batticaloa District on the 5th August 1990; 40 Muslims were murdered at Akkarapattu in the Ampara District the following day, and 127 Muslims were murdered at the Saddam Hussein Village, Poovaikadu and Kalavaichanai near Eravur in the Batticaloa District about four days later. The LTTE did not stop at that, they have continued and continue to murder Muslims while sleeping in their villages or going about their normal avocations not only in several towns and villages in the Northern and Eastern Provinces but even in villages in the North Central Province like Palliyagodella and Alinchinnapotai. In 1992, the LTTE gave every Muslim in all parts of the Jaffna, Killinochchi, Mannar, Vavuniya and Mullaitivu Districts which were under their control, the option of leaving the Northern Province within 24 hours or being murdered. Not surprisingly those innocent Muslims who had lived with the Tamils in the North for generations, chose the former option and left their homes their hearths and their belongings and fled those areas. They have since then languished in misery in refugee camps to this day.

While the question why the Tamil Secessionists should butcher Muslims in order to 'liberate' themselves from 'Sinhalese oppression' admits of no rational or credible answer, what conceivable answer could one expect to the question why the Secessionists and the LTTE in particular, should murder other Tamils in order to free Tamils from alleged Sinhalese oppression? Yet murder Tamils they did - and by the thousand at that.

According to the records of the Ministry of Defense, the Tamil Secessionist Groups and the LTTE in particular, had, in the six years between 1984 and 1990 murdered 1386 Tamil civilians whose identities were known. The actual number of Tamil civilians murdered by them during this period and thereafter must necessarily be considerably more. Among the more prominent Tamils so murdered in the name of 'Tamil Liberation' were :-

A.T. Duraiyappah [SLFP Mayor of Jaffna on 27.7.75]
A.Thiagarajah [ex ACTC M.P. for Vadukoddai who later joined the UNP on 24.4.81]
K.T.Pulendran [UNP Organiuser for Vavuniya on 19.1.83]
A.J.Rajasooriar [UNP Organiser for Jaffna on 12.8.83]
Mala Ramachandran [UNP MMC for Batticaloa on1.9.83]
Gnanachandiram [Ex District Judge Point Pedro and Government Agent Mullaitivu on 24.2.85]
C.E.Anandarajah [Principal St.Johns College, Jaffna on 26.6.85]
B.K.Thambipillai, [President, Citizens Committee Oddusudan on 22.8.85]
V.Dharmalingam [Ex TULF M.P. for Manipay and father of D.Siddharthan Leader of PLOTE on 2.9.85]
Alalasunderam [Ex TULF M.P. for Kopay on 2.9.95]
P.Kirubakaran [Primary Court Judge on 11.3.86]
Kathiramalai [Sarvodaya leader on 26.9.86]
Vignarajah [Assistant Government Agent Samanthurai on 15.9.87]
Anthonimuttu [Government Agent Batticaloa on 8.10.87]
S.S.Jeganathan [Assistant Government Agent Batticaloa on 8.10.87]
Sinnadurai [Assistant Government Agent Trincomalee on 26.11.87]
M.E.Kandasamy [Principal, Palugamam Maha Vidyalaya on 14.12.87]
S.Siththamparanathan [Principal Vigneswara Vidyalaya Trincomalee on 31.1.88]
S.Wijayanandan [District Secretary Ceylon Communist Party on 8.3.88]
Velmurugu Master [TULF Organiser and Citizens Committee Member Kalmunai on 20.3.88]
Rev. Father Chandra Fernando [President, Citizens' Committee, Batticaloa on 6.6.88]
Rajshankar [President Citizen's Committee Tennamarachchi on 27.10.88]
S.Sambandamoorthy [Ex TULF Chairman District Development Council, Batticaloa on 7.3.89]
V.M.Panchalingam [Government Agent, Jaffna on 1.5.89]
K.Pulendran [Assistant Government Agent, Kopay on 28.6.89]
A.Amirthalingam [TULF Leader and National List M.P. on 13.7.89]
V.Yogeswaran [ex TULF M.P for Jaffna on 13.7.89]
Dr. (Mrs) Rajini Thiranagama [Lecturer in Anatomy at the Jaffna University and co-author of the 'Broken Palmyrah' on 25.9.89]
Ganeshalingam [ex EPRLF Provincial Minister for North & East on 28.1.90]
Sam Thambimuttu [EPRLF MP] and Mrs. Tambimuttu [on 7.5.90]
V.Yogasangari [EPRLF MP in Madras on 19.6.90]
A. Thangadora [TULF MP for Trincomalee]

The Secessionists would brook no dissent or criticism. The freedom of thought and expression allowed by them to the Tamils was only the freedom to think the thoughts and to express the views of the Secessionists and of them alone. It is an indisputable fact that while all Tamils living among the Sinhalese in the seven Provinces outside the Northern and Eastern Provinces have the widest possible freedom of thought and expression - (a mere glance at any National Newspaper will prove this fact) they have none in the areas controlled by the LTTE. The inflexible rule is obey and succumb or be killed.

One significant fact about the murders of Tamils by those alleged to be fighting for the liberation of the Tamils from the Sinhalese is that among those murdered by the LTTE were a very large number of Tamils who were members of other Secessionist Groups who claimed to be fighting for the same 'cause'. If the LTTE is genuinely fighting for the rights of the Tamils which were allegedly denied to them by the Sinhalese how could the murder thousands of Tamil Civilians who were alleged to be the proposed beneficiaries of that fight contribute towards the attainment of that end? Further how could the murder of their comrades in arms of other Secessionist Groups such as the EPRLF and the TELO who were themselves allegedly fighting for the realization of that same objective further the attainment of that objective?

These are but some of the undeniable facts that serve to prove that LTTE is not fighting to free the Tamils from alleged oppression by the Sinhalese; or to win their 'rights' which were allegedly denied them by the Sinhalese; or to redress the alleged 'grievances' of the Tamils which were alleged to be peculiar to them. The cause for which the LTTE is fighting is nothing more noble than the 'cause' of gaining absolute power to be wielded by the LTTE and the LTTE alone in a mono-ethnic sovereign and independent State of Tamil Eelam which they hope to establish, for a start, in that part of the territory of Sri Lanka which comprises the Northern and Eastern Provinces. There can also be no doubt that this was the same cause for which the other secessionist groups fought - with but one difference, namely, that they had visions of being share-holders of that absolute power with the LTTE; a vision that was rudely shattered by the LTTE which had no intention of sharing such absolute power with anyone.

From Tigers, Moderates And Pandora's Package By S. L. Gunasekara